He has sailed everything from a tiny Laser dingy to a 100-foot supermaxi but when it’s comes to having a blast Tom Slingsby says there’s nothing better than his new mode of transport.
Slingsby and his all-Australian crew this week got their first taste of the modified 50-foot foiling machine they will race in the new SailGP series kicking off on Sydney Harbour in February.
And the London Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup winner has given it – along with its striking Aussie themed new livery- the thumbs up.
“The giant kangaroo, which we designed, and Aussie flag is cool. It’s an honour to sail with the Australian colours like this,” Slingsby said from New Zealand, where he and his team have been speed and sail testing the F50 wingsailed catamaran they will race in the six-event SailGP series.
Slingsby revealed his team hit a speed on 49.72 knots in just 16 knots of wind during the testing period and have set the goal of cracking the 50 knot barrier on Sydney Harbour in February if conditions play ball.
While he has been involved with some of the fastest machines since jumping off the Laser post his Olympic success six years ago, Slingsby said he is still astounded at the rapid development and speed leaps in foiling craft.
“I would have been lucky to have got to 10 knots racing at the London Olympics,” said Slingsby, who won Australia’s first individual gold medal in his 14-foot Laser at the 2012 Olympics.
On Sydney Harbour he plans to go five times faster – a feat which even surprises Slingsby.
“I remember being San Francisco (with Oracle America’s Cup team) in 2013 and it was the first time we cracked 30 knots,’’ Slingsby said.
“To think we are doing 20 knots more now, it is amazing how the sport has progressed.’’
The SailGP series features six teams from Great Britain, America, China, Japan, France and Australia with the two leading crews after four rounds vying for the winner-take-all prize purse of US$1m.
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Sydney will be the first stop of the 2019 tour which then moves to San Francisco in May, New York in June, Cowes, UK, in August and then onto Marseilles, France in September.
While Sydney Harbour will be their racetrack in February, Cockatoo Island will be the team base for all six crews and their F50 catamarans.
The base will feature a free public viewing area on top of the island’s cliff and free base tours will also be offered on Cockatoo Island on selected dates from February 1, 2019, which can be booked on SailGP.com/Sydney.
Spectator tickets can also be booked on www.sailgp.com.